Is this Hilal?
Omar Afzal Ph.D.
With a recent spurt in the observation of the earliest
crescent moon around the world by Muslims and professional observers , a new
issue has emerged for the Shari’ah experts to resolve: What is a Hilal?
Look at the following three pictures:
The earliest visibility of the crescent moon is claimed in
the following different ways:
- Observable by naked eye to anyone with normal
- Observed by a few in the crowd at the same location,
but not by all;
Tuesday, Oct. 4,
ICOP member Mr. Usman Duhhu:
"Eight of us, out of the 15 in the group, saw the crescent about 20 minutes
after the sunset."
- Observed by naked eye usually after tracking through a
Tuesday 04 October
- Australia: ICOP member Mr.
Afroz Ali said: "The moon was sighted in Australia on 4th October…." (?)
- India: ICOP member Dr.
Sultan Ismail said: "As the Moon was not sighted anywhere near Chennai on
claim is seriously doubtful because the moon was not visible in Chennai several
Dec. 2, 2005
- ICOP member Dr. John
Caldwell mentioned that he sighted the crescent from Fort Davis (TX) by
- ICOP member Mr. Javad
Torabinejad mentioned that he saw the crescent by naked eye from Blacksburg
(VA), he added: "The crescent was very thin; if it were not for the
binoculars, the naked eye sighting was not possible!"
- Observed only through a binocular or a telescope, but
not by naked eye.
October 4, 2005
# Iran: ICOP member Mr.
Mousa Zamani sighted the crescent by binoculars, whereas he didn't see it by
Sept. 2005 New Moon
Crescent Observation Report
Location =Tucson, Az Longitude =110.9645 W Latitude =
32.4204 N Elevation = 842 meters Time Zone = -7.0 hours
Surface conditions at
18:55 (MST)Tucson International Airport (805 m):Temperature = 91 (Degrees
Relative Humidity = 31 (Percent)Atmospheric Pressure = 29.96 (Inches)
Crescent first observed
through 8” SC telescope: Time = 18:39 Altitude = 8.7
Crescent first observed through 9x63 binoculars: Time =
18:57 Altitude = 4.9 degrees
Crescent first observed through 5x25 binoculars: Time =
19:00 Altitude = 4.3 degrees
The crescent was followed in
all three instruments until it set behind trees at 19:15. Even though I
knew exactly where to look (due
to the clouds), I never saw the Moon with the naked eye.
Sunset (at sea level) = 18:49 Moonset (at sea level) =
19:30 Time from new moon at 18:39 = 31 hr. 50 min.
Moon lag time = 41 minutes Relative Altitude = 8.45 degrees
Elongation from sun = 13.77 degrees
Crescent width = 26 arcseconds Illumination = 1.44 percent
December 2, 2005
- ICOP member Mr. Mohammad
Zahed Aram was not able to see the crescent by binoculars
despite the clear sky.
- ICOP member Mr. Alireza Mehrani (Reporter $ Photographer)
Location: 200 km west of
Esfahan, Iran Lat: 33? 15.23' N Lon: 50? 09.96' E
Sunset (at sea level): 17:01:44 Sunset (observed): 16:58
Crescent first observation through 15x80 binoculars by Alireza Mehrani:
Time: 17:05:40 LT
Moon Alt: 2.982 Elongation: 12.819
observation through 25x100 & 15x70 binoculars by Ali Ebrahimi and Abbas
17:23:25 Moon Alt: 0.104 Elongation: 12.934
Observers: Alireza Mehrani
(15x80 bin), Ali Ebrahimi (25x100 bin), Abbas Ahmadiyan (15x70 bin), Saeed
Janghorban (15x70 bin), Mahdi Mansuri (20x60 bin), Mohammad Soltanolkottabi
- Iraq: ICOP member Mr.
Bacil Moudhaffar: "Crescent was not seen Friday, 2/12/2005 even with
(Note: Iraq is west of
Esfahan from where 3 out of 6 observers claimed sighting and three could not
(In response to a query: Can
you see a crescent in the picture submitted by Mehrani, especially after it was
not seen in Iraq farther west of Isfahan?
Odeh (Icoproject) Yes I can
see the crescent but it is difficult. Actually this reminds me of our crescent
in 1999, you can see its picture at: http://www.icoproject.org/icop/jucres.html
although it is almost invisible in the picture but we did see it with
- Observed through a telescope only;
- Observed through a telescope by a professional
astronomer, but not by others at the same location and through the same
New Moon Crescent
2 November 2005
Location = Tucson, Arizona (USA) Gates Pass
Longitude = 111.10 W Latitude = 32.22 N
Elevation = 963 meters Time Zone = -7.0 hours
Topocentric and local time values from
Sunset (at sea level) = 17:38
Moonset (at sea level) = 18:00 Time from new moon at 17:43 = 22 hr. 10
Moon lag time = 21 minutes Relative Altitude = 4.00 degreeS
Elongation from sun = 11.99 degrees
Crescent width = 21 arcsecond Illumination = 1.1 percent
Crescent first observed through 8” SC
telescope: Time = 17:43 Altitude = 1.2
Lots of cirrus clouds
interfered with the observation, but they were thinning and there were breaks.
The Moon wasn’t
visible through the breaks
until 17:43 at the predicted time and position. The image was dull and smooth,
and I didn’t note any other characteristics, because I wanted the others to see
it. However, at least four other people tried, but were not successful. Focus
was very critical for this observation, and I believe that was the reason for
lack of success.
Observer(s): Jim Stamm
- Claimed by naked-eye and a professional observer from
an area outside well-defined non-visibility curves.
Nov. 2, 2005
Along with large group of brothers, we arrived at the
sighting place shortly before sunset. Mashallah we observed a beautiful sunset
on a very clear skies. at about 5:38pm. There horizon is very clear at the
At about 5:42pm I saw
the very very thin, illusive Hilal, to the left of the position where the sun
had just set -- spanning the distance from the seven o'clock and two o'clock
hand of an analog clock. The Hilal's elevation was less than one finger
width. The Hilal was indeed very very thin and illusive as such continuous
observation of it was limited to few seconds. I was only able to
continually observe it until about 5:41pm.
One other brother
with the group, Brother ----- was able to see it at the point it was
first sighted. Our imam saw it at first sight but because of it's
illusive nature was not certain of his sighting.
Nov. 2, 2005 Shawwal moon sighting claims have forced the
Muslims to seriously consider the ‘verifiability’ issue.
Date: Sun, 25 Dec
2005 18:07:56 +0400 From: "Mohammad Odeh" <email@example.com>
To: "Omar Afzal" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "ICOP Mailing List" <ICOP@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: Re: sighting crescent
Assalamu Alykom Dr. Omar,
Yes I can see the crescent
but it is difficult. Actually this reminds me of our crescent which we saw in
1999, you can see its picture at: http://www.icoproject.org/icop/jucres.html
although it is almost invisible in the picture but we did see it with
confidence! Capturing the thin crescent on film is not as easy as seeing it by
naked eye through the telescope.
As for why not all the
observers were able to see it, this depends on the equipment and the experience,
there is a great difference between an observer trying to see the crescent in
the eyepiece when the telescope is exactly pointing at the crescent than another
observer who is searching for the crescent by the telescope.
Mohammad Shawkat Odeh
Jordanian Astronomical Society (JAS)
P.O. Box 224, Blue Tower
Building Khalifa Street, Abu-Dabi, UAE
email@example.com ICOP URL:
http://www.icoproject.org/ JAS URL: http://www.jas.org.jo/
Omar Afzal wrote: > Dear Odeh,
> I would like you to look for the D. Qa'da moon picture of
Dec.2 on ICOP web by Mehrani. Do you see any 'Hilal'?
> Another question is why only one (or two) could see it,
but not the other four?